Letters to the Editor: April 20, 2023

timestamp icon
category icon Letters to the Editor

Former city councilor: school levies are vital to future of Washougal

Our future is on the brink.

When I moved to Washougal in 2000, friends asked, “Why there? It’s a dump.”

People walked around with eyes down and shoulders bent. There was no pride.

We have transformed our city. We now walk with heads held high.

Our city electeds and staff transformed downtown with the new Reflection Plaza and Main Street, new parks — including Waterfront Trail and Steamboat Landing parks — pickleball courts and baseball fields.

The Port of Camas-Washougal Commission and staff are transforming an obsolete sawmill into a waterfront showcase. They have added acres of industrial space and hundreds of jobs.

The Washougal School Board and school district staff have transformed the Washougal School District. The days of state warnings and below-average performance are gone. We have award winning programs and staff. Test scores and graduation rates are above average. Our school sports teams win state and regional championships, and the community shows up to cheer. The schools’ science clubs win prizes. Music, drama and art win accolades. The Career and Technical Education programs are a model for Washington state.

Organizations and churches have stepped up: Gateway, Riverside Seventh Day Adventist, the various LDS congregations, as well as Washougal Arts & Cultural Alliance, West Columbia Gorge Humane Society, Children’s Home Society and Refuel Washougal, to name but a few, have empowered our new sense of community.

When I was on the Washougal City Council for 15 years, I kept asking myself, “How do we transform a bunch of garage doors into a community?” Washougal schools have been the greatest contributor to this effort.

These levies are not just about school budgets, they are about the future of our community. The loss of sports, theater, art, music, counseling, small class sizes and career education would be devastating.

Do we — can we — turn down and back? Let’s stand up proud and move forward. Washougal Rising!

These levies really are that important.

Please vote “yes” for Washougal.

Paul Greenlee,


School levies needed for well-rounded education in Washougal

To all the voters of the Washougal School District: We have the opportunity to vote to support the children of our community.

A “yes” vote will continue to provide many important activities for our kids. Music, sports, drama, arts and other important programs are essential to the education of all of the students.

We have raised six daughters. They all went through the Washougal school system. We now have grandchildren attending school here. They need the programs to have a well-rounded education.

We encourage all voters to support the Washougal schools in the April 25 election. Washougal is advancing. Let’s keep our programs going.

The Maintenance and Operations Levy represents funding for 18% of our total school district budget. Not only will the students lose if the Levy is not passed, staff members will lose their jobs. The state does not completely fund the basic needs of students.

That is why we need to support our children by voting “yes” on the Washougal School District levies.

Ernie and Pat Suggs,


Want to prioritize Washougal’s kids? Vote ‘yes’ on WSD levies

Imagine cutting 18% out of your household budget. What would you have to give up? You probably don’t even want to imagine it.

Yet, if voters fail to pass the levy, that’s exactly what the community will be asking the Washougal School District to do.

The state and federal government pays 82% of the cost of educating our community’s children. The rest is on us.

Every three years when the levy comes up for a vote, the community usually supports it without much fuss. Why? Because we understand our kids are tomorrow’s parents, workers, and leaders, and that they’re worth everything we can give them. We also understand that strong public schools are foundational to a thriving community, and that they benefit us all by attracting good neighbors and supporting our property values.

Our schools and teachers are resilient. We know this firsthand, because since November, the East County Citizens Alliance has sent tutors into Washougal High School to support students in biology, algebra, geometry, English and other subjects. We’ve seen firsthand the way administrators, teachers and paraeducators work tirelessly — and that’s no exaggeration — on behalf of students.

But we’ve also seen the strain the system is under. Given the complexity of individual student needs, we don’t see any luxuries that can easily be stripped away without hurting students and making teachers’ jobs even harder.

For us, it comes down to a simple question. Do we want to be the kind of community that prioritizes its kids? Let’s decide with this vote.

East County Citizens Alliance,


Give kids a good start in life: vote ‘yes’ on Washougal school levies

The Replacement Educational Levies for the Washougal School District (WSD) are a hot topic this year as the district tries to balance the budget in challenging financial times.

Seeing people criticizing the district as “failing” these kids, or criticizing the kids themselves as “lazy… entitled… unskilled… and unwilling to learn” frustrates me.

As a volunteer tutor at the high school, and personally knowing tutors in the grade schools, I know this is simply not true. The schools and kids adapted the best they could during a disruptive pandemic. These kids are resilient and are hungry to learn.

The Washougal School District, including teachers and staff, are providing every post pandemic opportunity they can for these kids to “catch up” with grade-level expectations, including the tutoring program I participate in.

Comparing WSD to other districts: “For the 2023 school year… Washougal School District… average testing ranking is … in the top 20% of public schools in Washington.” (

We can’t all be tutors, but we all have the opportunity to ensure the schools have the resources they need to provide all kids in our district with a good, educational start in life.

Vote “yes” for the school levies!

Mark Haller,


A financial case for voting ‘yes’ on Washougal school levies

Folks in our community have the right to express their opinion and vote accordingly. However, valid perspectives are being confused by people spreading misleading information.

Case in point: Voters’ Pamphlet April 25, Special Election, “Rebuttal of Statement For” EP&O Levy, written by Richard Rylander, states the (levy collection) increase is 31.25%, implying this is well over any reasonable need by schools. The reality is that (the levy) increases an average of 8.55% a year, covering both inflation and population growth. Even more misleading is Mr. Rylander’s “Rebuttal of Statement For” the Capital Levy, which shows increases “from $2.623 million to $9.050 million (246%).” The Capital Levy is going up, but a nearly equal capital bond repayment is going away. The district’s net revenue increase would be 6.63% a year.

Rylander also states that students are “failing” math and English, implying that schools ignore these core subjects. Many Washougal kids are behind grade level expectations, as are kids across Washington state and the U.S., due to circumstances — a pandemic — beyond anyone’s control. Students, teachers, administrators and community volunteers are working hard to help students meet expectations before graduation, and results are impressive. (

There is being financially prudent versus penny-wise and dollar-foolish. Not funding a full educational experience for kids today means less productive citizens and reduced home values tomorrow. Vote “yes” on the Washougal school levies.

Anne Haller,


We encourage readers to express their views about public issues. Letters to the editor are subject to editing for brevity and clarity. Send Us a Letter